Tag Archive: nigeria


Goddess Odudua

Art by Drew Flaherty

Art by Drew Flaherty

“Odudua’s themes are kinship, unity, devotion, creativity, community, love and fertility. Her symbols are black items. In the beginning, Odudua created the earth and its people. In Yoruban tradition, She presides over all matter of fertility, love and community. Her sacred color is black.

The African American festival of Kwanzaa celebrates family unity and the black culture. It is also a harvest festival whose name means ‘first fruits’. Every day of the celebration focuses on important themes, including Odudua’s harmony, determination, community responsibility, purpose, creativity and faith.

One lovely tradition easily adapted is that of candle lighting. Each day of the festival, light one red, green or black candle (the colors of Africa). Name the candle after one of Odudua’s attributes you wish to develop (try to choose the color that most closely corresponds to your goal). Igniting it gives energy and visual manifestation to that principle. Also try to keep one black candle lit (in a safe container) to honor the Goddess’s presence during this time.

To inspire Odudua’s peaceful love in your heart and life today, wear something black. This will absorb the negativity around you and put is to rest.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

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Patricia Monaghan said that this “primary mother Goddess of the Yoruba of Nigeria…is the great orisha (deity) of the earth as well as its creator.  Her name means ‘She who exists for Herself and to create others,’ and it was Her energy that caused the primal matter which later formed itself ionto this universe.  The spot where She descended from the sky onto the new earth is still pointed out in Yourbaland.  Oddudua is called Saint Claire in Santería” (p. 238).

On mythologydictionary.com, it states: “A creator-Goddess and war-Goddess of the Yoruba. Wife and sister (or, some, say, daughter) of Olodumare or Obatala. Mother of Aganju, Ogun and Yemoja. Some regard her as the founder of the Yoruba. In some accounts, Oduduwa is regarded as male, son of Lamurudu and brother of Obatala, marrying Aje and fathering Oranyan; in others She is female in which role Her father sent Her to earth to sow seeds and She became the wife of Orishako. In some references, called OduduwaOdudua or Odudua. [1]

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Oddudua”.

Mythologydictionary.com, “Oduduwa“.

 

Suggested Links:

MXTODIS123. Reclaimingthedarkgoddess.blogspot.com, “Oduduwa“.

Goddess Inna

“Inna’s themes are harvest, offering, protection, promises and justice. Her symbols are yams and harvested foods.  In Nigeria, Inna ensures an abundant yam harvest for the Yam Festival, as well as good crops for farmers who honor Her. During the summer months, She appears as a protectress who oversees our lands, homes, promises and all matters of justice. Oaths taken in Inna’s name are totally binding.

Around the end of June, nearly every group in Nigeria celebrates the New Yam Festival with offerings to the Goddess and a feast of yams. This is a sacred crop here and eating yams today will purify your body and spirit. If you can’t find yams, try sweet potatoes instead, sprinkling them with a little brown sugar to ensure sweet rewards for your diligent efforts. To get the wheels of justice turning a little faster, forego the sugar and eat the potatoes steaming hot (heat represents motivating energy).

People traditionally practice yam divination today. You can try this yourself using any potato. Cut it in half the long way, then toss the two sides in the air while praying for Inna’s insight. If one lands face up and the other face down, it is a good sign for your family or the entire community in which you live. The coming year will be filled with Inna’s abundance and equity. To increase the meaning in this system, draw two personally significant symbolsin the potao and see if either comes up!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

 

“Igbo Woman” by Arteyez

I could find no information on Inna other than that She is an African Goddess of Justice. [1]  I found one Goddess by the name of Aha-Njoku (also called the “Lady of Yams), worshipped by the Igbo people of Nigeria, who oversees the growth and harvesting of yams and the women who care for them. [2]  Perhaps a minor local deity or spirit?  Or Perhaps somehow related to Goddess Ala?

 

 

Sources:

Godfinder.org, “Inna“.

Wikipedia, “Ahia Njoku“.

Goddess Asase Yaa

"Mother Nature" by Zonagirl

“Asase Yaa’s themes are death, truth, morality, fertility, and the harvest.  Her symbol is soil.  In West Africa, Asase Yaa means ‘old woman earth’. As such, She governs the soil’s fertility, and consequently, the harvest. This Goddess represents the earth’s womb, who gives us birth and to whom we all return at death. In life She presides over and motivates truth and virtue; upon death, She cares for and judges our spirits. Thursday is the traditional day for honoring Her in the sacred space.

Every two years in April, people in Nigeria honor the spirits of the dead in a special festival called the Awuru Odo Festival that resembles a huge, extended family reunion – which is exactly how we can commemorate Asase Yaa in our own lives. If you can’t assemble with your family because of distance, pull out photographs of loves ones and wrap them in something protective. Lay these down and sprinkle a little rich soil over them so that Asase Yaa’s presence (and, by extension, yours) can be with them this day, no matter where they may be.

To keep Asase Yaa’s honesty and scruples as an integral part of your life, take any seed and a little soil and warp them in cotton, saying:

 ‘Into your womb I place the seed of self
to be nurtured in goodness and grown in love.’

Carry this token with you to keep Asase Yaa close by.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Asase Yaa (pronounced ‘ah-sah-see-yah’, and means ‘mother earth’) “is the earth Goddess of fertility of the Ashanti people of Ghana. She is the wife of Nyame the sky god. She gave birth to two sons, Bea and Tano. However, in their folklore She is also the mother of Anansi the trickster god. Asase Yaa is very powerful, though no temples are dedicated to Her, instead She is worshipped in the fields.” [1]

“Asase Yaa is the Goddess who is  recognized as a source of truth; Her followers show Her respect with a day of rest from tilling the soil on Thursdays. In fact, She is a daily part of life for the Guyanese  who still practice the old spiritual traditions.  Before a farmer begins to till the ground, he must ask for Her permission.  Farmers sacrificed roosters to ensure good harvest.  She is the old woman of the Earth who is personified as the mother of humanity who supplies Her children with life and embraces them again at death.” [2]

 ASSOCIATIONS:

FAVORED PEOPLE: anyone who has worked in a field
ANIMAL: goat
PLANET: Jupiter
ELEMENT: earth
NUMBER: 8
DAY: Thursday
ORIGIN: Ashanti

I just thought this was cool –  Asase Yaa, a provider of global foods for festivals with vegan and vegetarian options in Minneapolis, MN.  I love this quote on her site, 

When you cook, you need to be on your best mental behavior and think about how people will feel eating your food. You want to share that spiritual energy and hope that people will receive if from the meal”- Petrina (Creator/Owner of Asase Yaa)

Sources:

MXTODIS123. An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Asase Yaa“.

Wikipedia, “Asase Ya”.

Suggested Links:

Moon, Tora.  The Goddess Speaks, “Message from Asase Yaa – Goddess of Agriculture and Harvest“.

Romero, Frances. TIME Specials, “Top 10 Earth Goddesses“.


Goddess Ala

“Ala’s themes are luck, harvest, joy, cleansing, death and cycles.  Her symbols are yams and the crescent moon.  This West African earth-Goddess represents the full cycle of earth’s seasons from birth to death, gently reminding us that spring is transitory – so enjoy it now! Serious crimes are an abhorrence to Ala, and the spirits of the dead go to Her womb to find rest. Votive candles are a suitable offering for this Goddess figure.

When you get up this morning, light any candle to welcome both Ala and spring. If possible, include yams in your dinner meal to internalize the joy and good fortune Ala brings with the warmer weather. Bless your yams by putting your hands (palms down) over them, focusing on your goals, and saying:

‘Ala, be welcome
In this your sacred food, place the energy of happiness,
luck and protection for the months ahead. So be it.’

The people of Ghana believe in celebrating the new year over thirteen days instead of one. During this time they dance to banish evil, honor their dead ancestors, encourage serendipity, and petition Ala for a good harvest season. Ala’s shrines and other sacred places are bathed on the last day of festivities to  wash away the old, along with bad memories. For us this equates to dusting off our altars, bathing any god or Goddess images we have, and generally cleansing away old energies so Ala can refresh us.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

"Ala" by saiaii

Ala (also known as AniAnaAle, and Ali in varying Igbo dialects) is the Earth Mother Goddess; female Alusi (deity) of the earth, morality, death, and fertility in Odinani. She is the most important Alusi in the Igbo pantheon. The Igbo people of Nigeria call Her the mother of all things, but She is both the fertile earth and the empty field after the harvest. She is present at the beginning of the cycle of life, making children grow in their mother’s womb, and She is there at the end of the cycle, to receive the souls of the dead into Her own womb.  Her name literally translates to ‘Ground’ in the Igbo language, denoting Her powers over the earth and Her status as the ground itself. Ala is considered the highest Alusi in the Igbo pantheon and was the first Alusi, daughter of Chukwu, the supreme god. Ala’s husband is Amadioha, the sky god.

As the Goddess of morality, Ala is involved in judging human actions and is in charge of Igbo law and customs known as ‘Omenala‘. Taboos and crimes among Igbo communities that are against the standard of Ala are called nsọ Ala. Army ants, who serve the Goddess, attack those who break such rules.  But first, they appear in nightmares so that the wrongdoer might rectify his behavior.  All ground is considered ‘Holy land’ as it is Ala herself. With human fertility, Ala is credited for the productivity of land. Ala’s messenger and living agent on earth is the python (Igbo: éké), it is and animal especially revered in many Igbo communities. [1][2]

 

 

 

“Ala’s shrine is at the center of a village, people offer sacrifices at planting, first fruits, and harvest.  In the Owerri region, building called Mbari honor the Goddess.  They are never occupied, the ritual of building being more important than the structure.  The square Mbari are filled with painted figures of Ala, who balances a child on Her knees while she brandishes a sword and is surrounded by the images of other gods and animals.  Due to poverty and war, Mbari are built less frequently and are smaller than in the past.” [3]

 

 

Please visit Sisters in Celebration to read a beautiful earth healing ritual to Ala.

 

 

 

Sources:

37thState Blog, “Ala – Igbo Earth Mother Goddess“.

Monaghan, Patricia.  Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Ala“.

Wikipedia, “Ala (Odinani)“.

 

Suggested Links:

Freya. Goddess School, “Ala“.

Goddess-Guide.com, “Fertility Goddesses and Goddesses of Pregnancy and Childbirth“.

Wise. Odinani: The Sacred Arts & Sciences of the Igbo People, “Honoring Your Ancestors“.

 

 

Goddess Yemaja

“Yemaja’s themes are providence, blessing, luck and fertility.  Her symbols are fish, the color blue and the crescent moon.  Yemaja, the Nigerian Goddess of flowering water, bears a name that literally means ‘fish mother!’ As such, Yemaja generates providence and fertility, especially on the physical plane. In legends She gave birth to eleven deities, the sun, the moon, and two streams of water that formed a lake. In art she’s often shown as a mermaid or a crescent moon, and Her favorite color is blue.

The name for the day is definitely fishy. Not surprisingly, new year festivities in Nigeria mark the beginning of the fishing season. Having a teeming net today portends prosperity for the rest of the season. So, what is it that you hope to catch today? Cast out your spiritual line to Yemaja for help in meeting or exceeding any goal.

To bite into a little luck, follow the example of Nigerian children. They make candies in fish shapes before this event, then dunk for them. The one to retrieve the most gets the most good fortune. Check out your local supermarket’s bulk candy section. Ours carries gummy fish that work very well for this activity.

Consider including some type of fish in your menu today (even canned tuna will do the trick). Eat it to internalize good luck and a little of Yemaja’s blessings.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Yemaya” by Sandra M. Stanton

Yemaya is the Yoruban Orisha, a very powerful nature spirit or Goddess of the living Ocean, considered the Mother of All. She is the source of all the waters, including the rivers of Western Africa, especially the River Ogun. Her name is a contraction of Yey Omo Eja, which means “Mother Whose Children are the Fish”. As all life is thought to have begun in the Sea, all life is held to have begun with Yemaya. She is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all Her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent Her wealth.She does not easily lose Her temper, but when angered She can be quite destructive and violent, as the Sea in a storm.

In Her myth, it is said that she was brutally raped by Her son. After this She fled to a mountaintop and cursed Her son until he died. In Her sorrows She decided to take Her own life. As She died She gave birth to fourteen powerful orisha, when Her water broke it created a great flood which made the seven seas.

Yemaya was brought to the New World with the African diaspora and She is now worshipped in many cultures besides Her original Africa. In Brazilian Candomblé, where She is known as Yemanja or Imanje, She is the Sea Mother who brings fish to the fishermen, and the crescent moon is Her sign. As Yemanja Afodo, also of Brazil, She protects boats travelling on the Sea and grants safe passage. In Haitian Vodou She is worshipped as a Moon-Goddess, and is believed to protect mothers and their children. She is associated with the mermaid-spirits of Lasirenn (Herself a form of Erzulie) who brings seduction and wealth, and Labalenn, Her sister the whale.

Yemaya rules over the surface of the ocean, where life is concentrated. She is associated with the Orisha Olokin (who is variously described as female, male, or hermaphrodite) who represents the depths of the Ocean and the unconscious, and together They form a balance. She is the sister and wife of Aganju, the god of the soil, and the mother of Oya, Goddess of the winds.

Our Lady of Regla in Brazil may be linked to Her, and She is equated elsewhere in the Americas with the Virgin Mary  as the Great Mother. In parts of Brazil She is honored as the Ocean Goddess at the summer solstice, while in the north east of the country Her festival is held on February 2nd (a day that is also associated with Her daughter Oya, as well as being the feast day of the Celtic Bride), with offerings of blue and white flowers cast into the Sea.

Yemaya’s colors are blue, turquoise and white, and She is said to wear a dress with seven skirts that represent the seven seas. Her symbols are shells, especially cowrie shells. Since She is often  depicted as a mermaid as well so this too is a symbol of Her. Sacred to Her are peacocks, with their beautiful blue/green iridescence, and ducks. The number seven is sacred to Her, also for the seven seas.

“Yamana” by Lisa Iris

Yemaya represents the ebb and flow of life much like the flow of the ocean. Yemaya can bring forth life, but just like the ocean she can also cause great destruction, and change. She teaches us to move freely through the waves of change and cycles of life.

On your altar to Yemaya, have water, salt water if you have access to it. Shells, representations of sea life, crystals of turquoise and white quartz, colors of the ocean, a mermaid and a picture or statue of the Goddess.

Alternate spellings: Yemanja, Yemojá, Yemonja, Yemalla, Yemana, Ymoja, Iamanje, Iemonja, Imanje

Epithets: Achabba, in Her strict aspect; Oqqutte in Her violent aspect: Atarmagwa, the wealthy queen of the sea; Olokun or Olokum as Goddess of dreams

Also called: Mama Watta, “Mother of the Waters” [1] [2]

Symbols and Correspondences:

General: Ocean, rivers, mermaids, the Virgin Mary, New Year’s Eve, February 2, the North Star, half moon, rivers, dreams, pound cake, boats and ships, fans, sacred dance, the number 7

Animals: Fish, ducks, doves, peacocks, feathers, chickens, snakes, and all sea creatures

Plants: Oranges, tropical flowers, yams, grain, seaweed, other plants that grow in the ocean

Perfumes/scents: Scented soaps, raspberry, cinnamon, balsam

Gems and metals: Silver, pearls, mother of pearl, coral, moonstone, crystal quartz, turquoise, and any blue gem or bead

Colors: Sky blue, silver, white, green, and especially a blue dress with full skirt of 7 layers to represent ocean waves or the seven seas. [3]

Sources:

Goddessgift.com, “Goddess Symbols and Sacred Objects of Yemaya“.

Suggested Links:

Alvarado, Denise & Doktor Snake. The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, “Yemayá (Yemoja, Iemanja)“.

Goddessgift.com, “Yemaya, Goddess of the Ocean and the New Year“.

Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits.

Luckymojo.com, “The Seven African Powers“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heriones, “Yemaya“.

Tzeenj, Rafh. Spiralnature.com, “Yemaya“.

Goddess Oshun

“Oshun” by Selina Fenech

“Oshun’s themes are divination and love. Her symbols are flowing water, seashells and amber beads.  Oshun is a beautiful, oracular Goddess of love. Generous and beneficent, she opens her eyes to let us peek into what the future holds for relationships. According to legends, Oshun didn’t always know how to tell the future. She was taught by Obatala, one skilled in divination, in return for retrieving his stolen clothing from Elegba. But Elegba exacted his price too. Once Oshun learned to divine, she had to teach all the other orishas the fortune-telling secrets.

Traditionally, Saint Agnes’s Day is spent divining information about love’s path and relationships in the coming year. Following Oshun’s example, make a fortune-telling tool from three shells, each of which has a ‘top’ and ‘bottom’. If shells aren’t handy, use three coins/ Think of a ‘yes’ or’ ‘no’ question related to love. Three tops (or heads) mean ‘yes’. Two tops mean things are generally positive, but uncertain. One top indicates a ‘wait’ or a negative response, and three bottoms is a definite ‘no’. Put the shells under your pillow before you go to bed to dream of future loves.

Or, to encourage Oshun’s problem-solving skills in a relationship, carry a small piece of amber or wear a piece of amber-coloured clothing when you meet your loved one to talk things over.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Oshun” by Hrana Janto

“Oshun is the Yoruban Orisha (deity) of the sweet or fresh waters (as opposed to the salt waters of Yemaya). She is widely loved, as She is known for healing the sick and bringing fertility and prosperity, and She especially watches over the poor and brings them what they need. As Orisha of love, Oshun is represented as a beautiful, charming and coquettish young woman. In some tales She is said to be a mermaid, with a fish’s tail.

The Yoruba clans inhabit parts of western central Africa, in present-day Nigeria. Oshun is the Goddess of the river of the same name, and She is especially worshipped in river-towns. During Her yearly festival, She is said to choose one or more women dancers to descend into (much like participants in Vodou ceremonies may be ‘mounted’ or ‘possessed’ by a lwa). These women then take new names in honor of Oshun and are thereafter consulted as healers.

Oshun was taught divination with cowrie shells by Obatala, the first of the created gods, and then She brought the teaching to humans. She was at one time the wife of Shango, the storm god, as was Oya, the goddess of the winds and tempests. Oshun is also said to be the mother of the birds or fishes.

“Erzulie” by Kris Waldherr

With the African diaspora, Oshun was brought to the Americas, and adopted into the pantheons that branched out of the African traditions. In the Brazilian religion of Candomblé, which retains close ties with the Yoruban religion, as well as in Cuban Santeriá, She is called Oxum. In Haitian Vodoun She is an inspiration for Erzulie or Ezili, also a Goddess of water and love.

Oshun, like the other Orisha, has a number associated with Her–five; a color–yellow or amber; and a metal–gold or bronze. The peacock and the vulture are sacred to Her. Offerings to Oshun include sweet things such as honey, mead, white wine, oranges, sweets, or pumpkins, as well as perfume.

 

Alternate spellings: Oxun, Osun, Oshoun, Oxum, Ochun.

Titles: Oshun Ana, ‘Goddess of Luxury and Love’; Oshun Telargo, as the modest one; Oshun Yeye Moro, as the coquette; Oshun Yeye Kari, ‘Mother of Sweetness’. [1]

For a very informative and comprehensive list of Oshun’s associations and stories, please click here to visit Tribe of the Sun’s “Oshun” page.

 

 

Source:

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Oshun“.

 

Suggested Link:

Arteal. Order of the White Moon, “Oshun“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Oshun

Revel, Anita. Reconnect with Your Inner Goddess, “Oshun“.

Wikipedia, “Oshun“.

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